Product Liability Update

Product Liability Update

April 19, 2012

Foley Hoag's Product Liability Update is a quarterly update concerning developments in product liability and related law of interest to product manufacturers and sellers. If you find this update useful, please encourage your colleagues and contacts to also register with us on our website. As always, you can access all of our publications at www.foleyhoag.com

Included in this Issue:

  • United States Supreme Court Holds Federal Locomotive Inspection Act Preempts Entire Field of Regulating Locomotive Equipment, Including State Law Claims Alleging Defective Design or Failure to Warn Based on Asbestos Content
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Supreme Court’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes Rulings That (i) Non-Incidental Monetary Relief Prevents Certifying Injunctive Class, and (ii) Class-Wide Common Question Exists Only Where it Drives Resolution of Entire Action, Do Not Justify Decertifying Class Action Seeking Monetary Award for Medical Monitoring Program
  • First Circuit Holds Expert Testimony, Based on Odds Ratios from Published Studies, that Drug Treatment Increases Chances of Recovery by More than 50% Inadmissible to Prove Patient More Likely than Not Would Have Recovered with Treatment
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Admissible Experts’ Causation Testimony Based on Epidemiologic Study Finding Statistically Significant Increase in Breast Cancer Among Relevant Subgroup of Women Exposed to Drug Even Though No Such Increase Found in Women Overall
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds FDA Pre-Market Approval of Medical Device Consisting of Multiple Components Preempts State Law Claims Alleging Defective Design of Individual Component
  • Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Named Plaintiffs’ Claims Not Typical of Putative Class, and Plaintiffs Could Not Adequately Represent Class, Where Defendant Sought Indemnity from Previously Settling Parties Because Settlement Required Some Class Members, But Not Plaintiffs, to Indemnify Settling Parties for Any Judgment
    Massachusetts Federal Court Holds Contractual Privity Required for Breach of Warranty Claims by Commercial Entities Against Product Manufacturers and Sellers

Excerpt:

United States Supreme Court Holds Federal Locomotive Inspection Act Preempts Entire Field of Regulating Locomotive Equipment, Including State Law Claims Alleging Defective Design or Failure to Warn Based on Asbestos Content

In Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp., 132 S. Ct. 1261 (Feb. 29, 2012), a welder and machinist for a railroad carrier, whose duties included installing brakeshoes on locomotives and stripping insulation from locomotive boilers, alleged he developed malignant mesothelioma thirty years after his retirement from asbestos in the locomotive parts. He and his wife sued fifty-nine distributors of the parts in Pennsylvania state court alleging that they were defectively designed and defendants had failed to warn of the dangers of asbestos or provide instructions regarding its safe use. Following dismissal of fifty-seven defendants, the remaining two – a brakeshoe distributor and the successor to an engine valve manufacturer – removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and moved for summary judgment, arguing plaintiffs’ claims were preempted by the Locomotive Inspection Act (“LIA”), 49 U.S.C. § 20701 et seq. The district court granted defendants’ motion, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to address the preemption issue.

Download Foley Hoag's April 2012 Product Liability Update (.pdf)